Josh Koscheck has an opinion about his former employer's new uniforms. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Josh Koscheck swears he isn’t bitter about the conclusion of his UFC tenure.
If some of his sentiments seem harsh, well, that’s because Koscheck has never been one to tread lightly when it comes to expressing an opinion. “The Ultimate Fighter 1” veteran concluded his 25-fight stint with the Las Vegas-based promotion in March, when he fell to Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night “Maia vs. LaFlare.”
That marked Koscheck’s fifth consecutive loss within the promotion, prompting many to question whether it was time for him to retire. At the time, Koscheck wasn’t ready to make a commitment either way.
“I can’t comment on that right now. I need to go home. I need to re-evaluate life, re-evaluate my career. Just kind of take some time away,” Koscheck said on Fox Sports 1 after the fight. “I told Dana, I’ll call you in a couple weeks and we’ll figure out something. I told him I’d like to fight somebody my own age for once.”
As it turned out, Koscheck’s dicussions with the promotion he has called home since 2005 didn’t amount to much, leaving the veteran fighter to sign with UFC rival Bellator MMA.
“It wasn’t much of a conversation. It lasted about two seconds,” Koscheck told Sherdog.com. “So here I am now with Bellator. What they [the UFC] proposed didn’t suit Josh Koscheck. It was a new fight contract, and it wasn’t something that I wanted to get into because I’d be tied up into a s--t Reebok deal right now and not be able to make any money whatsoever. At the end of the day it’s business for me, and I’ve got to get paid.”
For Koscheck, part of getting paid involves the ability to pursue his fair market value, including sponsorships. According to Koscheck, that wouldn’t happen in the UFC, which officially implements its Reebok outfitting policy next week ahead of UFC 189. When that happens, all fighters under the Zuffa banner will be required to wear Reebok apparel at UFC Fight Week and Fight Night events, with compensation determined by tenure.
“[The Reebok deal is] not good for the fighters. There’s zero chance that the fighters are gonna get 90 percent or 100 percent of this money,” he said. “Zero chance of that. We all know that; that’s a big lie. I think it’s definitely part of the deal. Ever since the UFC started going to a sponsor tax, it killed us. It killed all the fighters. It drove sponsorship down. You have guys taking stuff for $500 when they should’ve been getting $10,000 for it.”
Koscheck wasn’t completely free from association with deal, however. When the UFC unveiled the Fight Kit uniforms on Tuesday, a Reebok shirt with Koschek’s name was initially available for purchase. That did not sit well with the 37-year-old New York native.
“I know that they did a Koscheck shirt. They don’t have that right. I had that apparel carved out of my contract when I was negotiating with the UFC,” he said. “I fight for Bellator now. I’ll probably give Bellator the right to do whatever they want in apparel, but I did not give the UFC that right. I believe that Reebok and them are going to be getting legal notices in the next day or so from my attorney to take that s--t down because it’s horrible. It’s not good for the fighters. Not at all.”
Koscheck was a polarizing figure on the initial season of “TUF,” and his on-camera rivalry with Chris Leben was instrumental to the reality show’s success. Koscheck came to be viewed as a heel from his time on the cast, and that persona stuck with him during a successful UFC career. He earned notable victories over the likes of Diego Sanchez, Chris Lytle, Frank Trigg, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes during his promotional tenure and came up short in a bid for welterweight gold against Georges St. Pierre in 2010.
Like many of his “TUF 1” brethren, Koscheck will always be associated with the UFC’s rise to prominence in the national sporting consciousness. With that in mind, Koscheck says he was a little disappointed not to hear from UFC brass upon his exit.
“I haven’t spoke to anybody at the UFC. They’ve never picked up the phone and called med. That’s shame on them,” Koscheck said. “A guy that puts  fights, 12 years and does what he did for that organization and they can’t pick up the phone and call him? Shame on them. They should’ve picked up the phone. Dana White and Lorenzo should have picked up the phone personally and called me and said, ‘Hey, we can’t match this agreement, good luck, thank you.’
“But they didn’t. But I’m not bitter about that because I’ve got big daddy Scott Coker, who stepped up and believed in Josh Koscheck. I can’t be thankful enough to Scott Coker for taking this chance on me.”